Picnics and Flowers and More – June 2020

June 1st Monday – 6th Saturday: Clifford and I are engaged in our usual activities – music, ham radio, and virtual flying for Clifford; photography as it relates to blog-writing and posting on my website and on FB, editing for Ang, and domestic activities for me. I especially enjoy taking photos of our few flowers and preparing them for the Higher Vibration Series posted daily on FB. I am up to day 237 – one photo a day plus a comment.

Highs are mostly in the mid-80’s, 50 to 60 at night, wind is almost constant, although sometimes calmer in the early morning, and that is when I try to take care of watering flowers and refreshing bird baths. Some days the sky is beautiful blue, sometimes spraying creates haze.

On Thursday we go for an outing up Abajo Mountain, even though it’s breezy. We are happy to find our favorite spot at Pine Flats is available and we get set up with Suburban blocking the wind somewhat as we have our picnic and then play music. Of course, any outing is an opportunity to take photos, and right now it is the wild iris that demand my attention.

Picnic and music on Abajo at Pine Flats
Wild iris at Pine Flats

The big project of sanding the picnic table and a couple of benches in preparation for staining happens on Friday. In the later afternoon, a very strong wind causes a power outage lasting nearly 5 hours.In the night lightning, thunder, and rain wake me up. I am happy to have the rain.

Around 10:00 Saturday morning, with just enough warning for me to move herbs and potted flowers to safety, we are hit with a ferocious hail storm. The extreme wind, thrashing trees, and hail, some stones the size of gumballs, creates darkness and a deafening roar for several minutes.

Darkness of a ferocious hail storm

Even after the storm passes and big cumulus clouds replace the dark storm clouds, it remains very windy all day. As far as we can tell, we have only suffered minor damage and are grateful it wasn’t worse.

After the storm

What I have not mentioned because I do not want to focus attention on it, but for future reference, the controversy over how best to handle Covid19 remains, peaceful protests have been infiltrated resulting in rioting and looting, as well as undeserved deaths. The weather is increasingly unstable. It is a challenging time for this nation, the world, and our planet Earth.

May Draws to a Close – May 2020

The last weeks of May are marked by wind and highs in the mid-60’s. The final days of May are a bit warmer, so we make an outing to Abajo Mountain for a picnic and music.

Music on the mountain
Aspen and scrub oak

A trip to Ace Hardware in Blanding twenty miles away gives us an excuse to stop at Recapture Reservoir on the way back to Monticello. We are always on the lookout for places to camp.

Recapture Reservoir

At the close of the month, we do an exploratory outing on Abajo Mountain, checking out a narrow rocky road that leads to a knoll with a scenic view, followed by a hike to find Taylor Springs.

Narrow rocky road to Buckboard Knoll
Wild Iris on Abajo
Mountain bluebells

Besides our usual projects and these few outings, I take photos of blossoms in our yard, happy for their beauty in our lives.

Utah Outings – May 2020

In mid-May when my brother Rollie and his lady friend, Tata, stopped to visit Clifford and me at our Utah home-base, in addition to rebuilding our deck, we went on two outings.

Deck not quite done, but usable

The first outing was a short trip to Pine Flats on Abajo Mountain west of Monticello. Although there were clouds and a breeze, we were not deterred from having a picnic and playing music in a grove of scrub oaks. Nearby aspens added variety to the scenery.

Picnic at Pine Flats
Pine Flats

The second outing was a longer trip to Needles Overlook, south of Moab, about 20 miles off highway 191. Needles Overlook provides an unrivaled view of the dramatic landscape of the southern portion of Canyonlands National Park. In addition to walking the trail along the rim of the overlook, we again had a picnic and then played bluegrass tunes.

Rollie at Needles Overlook

This area is worthy of more exploring and we did pull off on one side road, but there is more to be seen another day.

View from a side road

April in Utah – April 2020

Mid April brings cool temperatures, highs sometimes only in the 40’s. Most of my projects and Clifford’s are indoor activities. This is a good time for reorganizing closets and cupboards in Cougar, editing, blog writing, and reading. With Clifford’s help I submit four photos to the Community Beautification Project.

A chilly April day

One of my sisters sent me a book, The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Very interesting insight into the reign of infamous King Henry VIII.

Reading

In spite of the chilly days, as I keep an eye on all the flower beds, I am happy to see the potential for blossoms this spring.

Blossom potential

Clifford is occupied with his ham radio, passing traffic (ham radio messages), and music, playing dulcimer and writing his own compositions using music software.

Although most small businesses are closed, on our daily walkabouts, we discover that the greenhouse is open, which I am glad to see. The “essential businesses” are mostly where we go anyway, so we notice very little difference in our weekly errands, other than the Plexiglas barriers in some places and many people wearing masks. We follow the news on Covid19 and inform ourselves through watching a number of videos related to the topic. There is certainly more going on than what the mainstream news reports, and even that is very contradictory.

Abajo Mountain

It is only toward the end of April that temperatures reach the upper 60’s and lower 70’s and we are finally able to make another outing on Abajo Mountain. The pond created by snow melt is a good place for us to stop. We set up table and chairs for our picnic and music, and I enjoy taking photos of reflections on the pond in spite of the clouds and gusty breeze.

Relflections on snow-melt pond
Picnic on Abajo
Reflections on a pond

Abajo Picnic and Needles Overlook – April 2020

Upon our return to homebase in southeast Utah in early April, life begins to settle into a different routine for Clifford and me. Now we have more house and yard chores to take care of, but it is nice to have access to hot showers, washer/dryer, and other conveniences.

More house and yard chores

For the most part, we are still living in Cougar. I miss being able to walk in the vast desert of southwest Arizona where we were camped all winter, but we make a couple of outings that are enjoyable.

Delighted with my first ever daffodil

Our first outing is a drive up nearby Abajo Mountain for a picnic. We intend to go to one of our favorite spots, either Monticello Lake and Pine Flats. However, when we reach the parking lot at the first campground, we can go no further, as the highway has not been plowed and there is too much snow. We drive back down the mountain to a forest road that is clear enough to allow us to pull to the side and park safely. We set up our table and chairs between old snowdrifts for our picnic before taking out our instruments to play music on the mountainside.

Picnic between the snowdrifts
Scrub oak

Our next outing is to Needles Overlook, about 45 miles from homebase. We pass the BLM campground where we stayed last fall, currently closed. As we drive to the overlook, we watch for places where we might boondock later this spring. Needles Overlook is 20+ miles from highway 191, but worth the drive for the spectacular view of the southern portion of Canyonlands National Park.

Views from Needles Overlook
Canyonlands National Park
Rock formation at Needles Overlook

Although there are picnic tables tucked in here and there, we decide to check out a couple potential boondocking spots for our picnic on our way back to the highway.

Sandstone Formation

The wind deters us from picnicking until we find a low spot off a side road that is out of the wind. A juniper provides a mix of sun and shade. We have our picnic and then play music, happy to have found a spot warm and calm enough to enjoy our afternoon outdoors.

Picnic in an arroyo
La Sal Mountains from our picnic spot

Flagstaff to HomeBase – Utah – April 2020

April 6, 2020 – At our overnight camping spot in the Coconino Forest north of Flagstaff, our last morning in Arizona, it is 38 degrees and windy. The winds will be coming from behind, so we pack up and are on our way by 10:00 a.m. We leave the forests behind and enter the badlands of northeast Arizona, taking the junction off US Highway 89 to US Highway 160, and then north on US Highway 191 into Utah. The badlands, while barren of vegetation, are impressive. It is Navajo Reservation all the way to Bluff, Utah.

Badlands of northeast Arizona
Utah looking a bit barren

When we reach the San Juan River just outside of Bluff, we plan to spend the night at the Sand Island Campground.

San Juan River at Sand Island Campground

The website did not indicate closure, nor was there a sign at the entrance to the campground. It is only after getting set up that, at the pay station, we see a sign indicating that the campground is closed due to Covid19. Odd, since are a few other RV’s camped along the river. I am very disappointed, as I have been looking forward to camping by the river, having gone all winter with no rivers, streams, or lakes. However, it seems that we don’t have a choice, so we leave the campground and continue the journey to our homebase in Monticello, arriving in the later afternoon.

Abajo Mountains – Monticello lies at the eastern foot of the range

And now we are back at homebase after having left four months ago, returning a month earlier than planned due to the travel and camping restrictions imposed by the covid19 issue. At this point, travel plans for the summer are on hold until we see how things develop.

Homebase

LaPosa South to Flagstaff – April 2020

April 1 to April 5: These first days of April are a time of change for us. We had planned to leave LaPosa South on the 15th, but due to increased travel restrictions because of covid19, we change our minds and begin packing so as to leave tomorrow.

Last morning desert walk

My brother Rollie and his lady friend Tata plan to come for dinner and music, but Rollie collapses. Tata calls 911 and we all spend the evening at the emergency room of the nearest hospital. Tests are done and Rollie will be fine. Clifford and I go back to camp around midnight; Rollie and Tata return to camp even later. Rough night for all, but glad everything is okay.

We delay our departure to make sure Rollie is okay and to have another opportunity for dinner and music. Saturday is now our departure date. Even with preparation ahead of time, it takes us awhile to get ready to leave. We say good-bye to Rollie and Tata, and she gives me two beautiful rocks: obsidian and a quartz crystal imbued with the intention for safe travel.

Leaving our campsite at LaPosa South

The Arizona desert is beautiful with so many flowers blooming, but hard to get decent photos from the vehicle at highway speeds. The ocotillo in full bloom, a purple ground cover, and California poppies are especially colorful. We leave I-10 at the junction of US Highway 60 to Wickenburg, then travel east on Arizona Highway 74 to I-17, bypassing Phoenix.

Arizona desert

North of Phoenix at the Agua Fri National Monument, we pull off, intending to camp where we camped with Rollie two years ago. However, Saturday afternoon is not a good time to fine a place to camp. This place is not designed to encourage camping, so the few possible places are already taken. Going in further was not a good idea because the road becomes more rugged and steep in places. We turn around, drive back out to I-17, then backtrack south to a parking area we had seen a few miles back, which turns out to be the Badger Springs Recreation Area. There is a large and level parking lot and we get set up away from others who are already there.

Badger Springs Recreation Area
Overnight at Badger Springs Recreation Area

The next morning, my son Matt calls, as there was an explosion and fire at the CBD plant where his son, my grandson, works. It was very very scary for everyone, but other than singed clothes, none of the workers were injured. Thank goodness!

As we are getting ready to leave, four semi’s pull in and unload their cargo – several hundred sheep that will soon spread out over the land for their summer pasture. It was fun to see them since I raised sheep for several years – not hundreds, but enough to have a fondness for them.

Sheep coming to summer pasture

It is steep downhill to Camp Verde followed by a steep haul back up to Flagstaff, Arizona.

San Francisco Peaks above Flagstaff, Arizona

North of Flagstaff, on US Highway 89, we turn off on a forest road and find a spot to camp for the night. We are set up in time to have lunch and a restful afternoon. I walk about, missing the flowers of the desert we have left behind, but pleased to see trees and snow on the mountain peaks. We are grateful for a peaceful place to spend the night.

Forest Road camp
Evening at our overnight north of Flagstaff

March Marches On and Out – March 2020

Sunday, March 29 – More flowers…. More restrictions, including mandated “Stay Home” under whatever names various states call it.

Monday – Clifford wakes me up at 3:00 a.m. because there is a mouse in the house and he didn’t know where to find the traps. The mouse is subsequently trapped, and in the morning I thoroughly clean and disinfect the floor before getting on with my morning walk and other projects.

Desert walk

The flowers are so beautiful and I especially enjoy photographing and editing globe mallow.

Globe mallow – artistic impressions

Although the desert marigolds are past their prime, they are still attractive and grab my attention.

Other blossoms, from the tiny ground-huggers to the tall ocotillo, add to the desert palette.

Groound-huggers

In the later afternoon, Rollie and Tata come over for dinner and music at a campfire.

Tuesday – Rollie comes to look at our leaking water pump, and later when he and Tata go into Quartzsite, he picks up one for us. In the afternoon, they come over, bearing food for dinner and our new water pump, which Rollie installs. We visit as we eat dinner, but no music tonight, being too late to get out the instruments.

And thus March marches out and we will see where April takes us.

Crystal Hill Outing – March 2020

Saturday, March 28 – This morning the sky is a beautiful blue, so an outing is planned to Crystal Hill, which is not far from where Clifford and I are camped at LaPosa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona. We meet up with my brother Rollie and his lady friend, Tata, so we can hike and have a picnic together.

Beautiful blue sky in the morning

By the time we are ready to go, spraying has messed up the sky, but we go anyway, taking the road out to Crystal Hill slow and easy, stopping a couple of times for photos.

Stopping on Crystal Hill Road for photos

When we arrive at Crystal Hill, we pick a nice spot to set up a picnic table, but decide to explore before eating. While Rollie, Tata, and I hike along the hillside looking for crystals, Clifford hikes to the top of Crystal Hill, where he sees a couple chuckwallas, foot long lizards. That was exciting for him.

Chuckwalla – photo from Clifford
Rollie and Tata with Ninja and Fifi at Chrystal Hill

Afterward, we enjoy a tasty picnic; wherever Tata is, food is good!

Great picnic at Crystal Hill
Rollie plays mandolin for us

On the way back to camp, Clifford and I stop so I can take photos of the ocotillo, which are so bright with their blossoms fully open. Streaks in the sky kind of mess with the photos, but still the ocotillo and desert marigolds are worth capturing for a blog.

Teddy bear cholla and Ocotillo

Desert Opulence – March 2020

March 25-27: It is usually calm in the morning when I go on my desert walk, as is my custom here at LaPosa South (south of Quartzsite, Arizona) where Clifford and I have been camped since January.

Morning walks in the desert

One of these mornings I go further out into the desert than usual and am rewarded with sightings of Apache plume, little pink puffs on a small shrub.

Apache Plume

The globe mallow and desert marigold are still in full bloom, while tiny ground-hugging blossoms begin to make their appearance. I must walk carefully not to step on flowers.

Desert marigold in bloom

Ocotillo buds begin to open, revealing blossoms that wave gently, like tiny red flags.

It is windy by afternoon and most activities are inside the RV – editing, writing, playing music, and so on. One day we go to my brother Rollie’s place to have dinner with him and his lady friend, Tata. Another day we go to town for errands, and when we return, it is apparent than a twister twisted through our campsite, creating a little disarray, but no damage. We are fortunate that the awning was not out.

Living as we do, camped by ourselves several miles from the highway and at least a couple city blocks from the nearest RV, being isolated is not a “thing” for us, it is just a way of life. I walk freely in the desert every day and never see anyone. However, going to Quartzsite for errands is weird, as social distancing is obviously in place at some establishments, but not others. However, everywhere we go, there is a sense of distrust, which feels odd and very uncomfortable.

No social distancing here

We had planned to head north at the end of March and camp in northern Arizona for a month before returning to Utah, but with the current state of affairs, as well as the still mild temperatures here in the desert, we will stay as long as we can.

Sunrise in the desert